Investigation closes Clear Creek to public - Dead fish, smell force recreational quarantine

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By Lisa King

The problem of odor, black water and dead fish continues to puzzle environmental officials, who have been combing the Clear Creek area for answers.

Clark Dorman, a state environmental inspector called in by local officials, said Friday that until they figure out what is wrong with the creek, no one will be allowed there.

We dont want people in there swimming or fishing or doing anything else until we determine what is going on there, Dorman said.

Tom Doyle, director of water and sewers in Shelbyville, said the Shelby County Health Department has surrounded the area with caution tape to quarantine the creek.

We want to keep people out of there until we know what were dealing with, Doyle said.

He added that more samples were taken Friday.

We trying to find out what the substance is, and at this point nothing has been determined, and nothing has been ruled out, he said Friday.

The substance to which Doyle is referring is a dark, murky-looking and seeping from ground in the area of the boat ramp at the Third Street Bridge. The tape is stretched along the creek from behind the old Coca-Cola Bottling Plant to Red Orchard Park.

Dorman said he doesnt know if the black water is related to the unknown substance coming out of the ground or to the fish dying.

Weve got several things to consider here, he said.

First, I think the creek is black because of the rotten vegetation on the creek bottom. Secondly, the creek is probably stagnant because its not flowing because we havent had much rain.

Dorman added that the fish might have died because of a lack in the water caused when the pump station lost power in last weekends storm.

As to the odor and the black substance coming up out of the ground, he has no speculations on what that could be.

We are still taking lab samples, but we dont know what it is yet, he said. There are underground storage tanks in this area, and maybe one of them might be leaking. But I really cant say yet.

Doyle said officials dug a temporary trench around the boat ramp to keep people away from the creek bank.

I cant stress enough that people shouldnt go down there, he said. Its for their own protection.